Friday, September 25, 2009

Bonnie Cashin Pink Leather Coat

While packing some of our costume collection this past week, Laura noticed some debris in the pocket of the piece she was working with. Upon further inspection, we discovered it was tobacco left behind by the previous owner/wearer. The tobacco had likely been in the pocket for over 30 years! The piece was isolated from the Collection while we inspected it for any signs of insect infestation. After determining that there were no insects, the tobacco and a few scraps of cigarette packaging were cleaned off of the piece.

The coat, HLATC BCC27, is a pink leather Bonnie Cashin design created in collaboration with Philip Sills. Bonnie was an American designer, well known for her work for Coach, where she introduced the metal fasteners which you often associate with Coach products. You can see examples of the metal hardware she is so well known for on this jacket, which dates to the 1970s. Learn a little more about Bonnie in this great post on the FIDM museum blog.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hattie Carnegie Hat

HLATC 1991.22.8
How does one store a feather hat? In this case, the hat, HLATC 1991.22.8, is a 1950s hat from milliner and fashion designer Hattie Carnegie. The feathered brim makes storing the hat especially problematic.

This hat is often chosen by our 3D patternmaking class for analysis of its form and construction. Considering its relatively frequent handling, we wanted to create a storage method that would allow us to pull the hat from its storage cabinet and display it, all without having to actually touch the piece. We museum people love that sort of thing.

Tara Genske was up for this challenge and the hat become her project. Instead of ordering a custom sized box for this piece, she worked a little magic on an existing one. Since the box needed to be extra deep, Tara extended the height of the sides with pieces of archival board.

The next obstacle was what the hat would sit on. It needed to be elevated high enough to keep the feathers from touching anything, but not so high that it was unstable. Using muslin and blocks of ethafoam Tara constructed a hat stand which was attached to a piece of coroplast board cut to the size of the box bottom.

One layer of coroplast board ended up not being sturdy enough for the weight of the piece, so she used two with a another piece of sturdier board sandwiched in the middle. Tara finished off the coroplast platform by threading loops through each side for handles.

Now when the piece needs to be displayed for a class, we simply use the handles to pull the entire tray out of the box, never having to touch the hat. We imagine all those little feathers are thanking us.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Piña tablecloth


Handmade in a European convent in the 1950s, this tablecloth, HLATC EAE1355, shows an incredible attention to detail. While the center square is woven, the edging shows more intricate techniques such as needlelace and drawn thread work. Each of the scallops along the edges is approximately 3" in length and the patterns are infrequently repeated.

Another interesting aspect of this piece is that it is made of piña instead of the more typical linen. Piña is a natural fiber made from the leaves of pineapple plants. It is most commonly used in tropical regions such as Hawaii, the Philippines, Indonesia and India, where it is produced and more readily available.